Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Discretion: Teens' Greatest Fear This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Discretion: a rarely applied social skill in which one does not divulge every single aspect of their personal life to the general public.
In this day and age, teens might find it challenging not to partake in the constant over-sharing and name-dropping that takes place on social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. We feel that the more our presence is known, the better our “image” becomes. To aid in making our presence known, we throw discretion out the window and post multiple statuses each day about our “fabulous” lives, uploading dozens of photos from every party or event we attend. Our generation has slowly changed from being obsessed with beauty to being obsessed with image. It is not the image of perfection that we seek to project, but the image of being carefree and popular. This raises an interesting question: Are we image-obsessed ­because we lack discretion, or do we lack discretion because we are image-obsessed?

If you logged onto Facebook right now, you would check the news feed and read about the “Awesome weekend with the boys” your acquaintance had, the “Huuuge problem” a classmate is dealing with, and you would view yet another new album posted by one of the many party girls in your class entitled “Sophomore year part 5 ;)” with at least 75 photos of said person dancing with her friends, taking a picture in her car, or just generally have a “Frickin. Awesome. Night.”

After seeing how much effort some put into making their lives seem significant, I have to wonder who these people would be without Facebook and their so-called image. Without documenting every party they went to, or constantly updating their status about the latest inside joke, these people would simply exist. They would still attend the parties and continue to act the same way, but they wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing that everyone else was witnessing what a “fabulous” life they have.

Many teens believe that it is the image we create for ourselves in high school that determines whether or not we exist socially. And the easiest way to create and promote this image is through Facebook. The number of “friends” you have, the number of photos you're tagged in – it all relates to how well-known you are. Isn't that the whole point of Facebook?

What would be the point of possessing an account and applying discretion while using it. To only post a status every few days? To not write on your friends' walls all the time? To only be friends with people you know? Preposterous! It defeats the whole purpose of social networking. I mean, who doesn't want to know what your so-called friends are doing at every hour of every day?

This leads me to another type of Facebook user, one who is far from popular. These people often post statuses laden with indiscreet details, hoping that someone will acknowledge them. However, their ­attention-seeking behavior generally goes unacknowledged, which brings you to wonder why they keep it up.

But indiscretion is not only an issue on the Internet, but in everyday life too. People talk loudly about their personal problems in public places, attention-seekers yell obscenities across the hall to their friends – all for the sole purpose of being noticed. By talking loudly about personal details, you're making it clear that you want everyone to hear about your “interesting life,” whether or not they know you. ­Although face-to-face interactions are the real-life version of Facebook (or rather, Facebook is the ­Internet version of face-to-face interactions), this doesn't mean life should be treated like one big ­status update. You don't need to divulge every ounce of your personal life to strangers by talking loudly, just as you don't need to broadcast these details on Facebook.

Why do we feel the need to constantly over-share personal information with everyone? Perhaps it goes along with the theory that by making your presence known, you don't run the risk of fading into obscurity. The fear of being anonymous is rampant in today's society. We're so afraid of going unnoticed that we will do anything to get attention, positive or negative. We would rather be known by everyone than be seen by no one. That is why our generation has an obsession with over-sharing, an addiction to indiscretion. The lack of invisibility makes us feel invincible, because then we don't run the risk of being forgotten.

What we need to remember is that the image we project, whether it's through Facebook or our actions in public, is still an image. It is not a true representation of character or ideals; it is merely an edited version of who you are. Don't live your life in hopes of improving your image; instead, let the image you project be an afterthought, a reflection of the life you truly lead.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Join the Discussion


This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

. said...
Jan. 1 at 11:22 am:
two words; "hazel's obituary"
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Rhythm.Weaver This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm:
I think everyone can learn a lesson from this. So true!!!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Chriscross said...
Oct. 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm:
Wow!  I thought this was very insightful.  The author hit a home run!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback